Romania's newest government adviser came as a big surprise for the cabinet that did not anticipate an AI assistant would be appointed to the role. On Wednesday, Romanian Premier Nicolae Ciucă unveiled Ion, the "honorary adviser", that operates fully on artificial intelligence.
According to Politico, Ion was presented to the cabinet through a demonstration as a face and words showed up on a mirror-like screen in response to Ciucă's prompts. Ion, which comes with a computerised voice, was brought into existence by Romanian researchers. According to the prime minister, it uses artificial intelligence to "quickly and automatically capture the opinions and desires" that are sent by citizens. Furthermore, it “will use technology and artificial intelligence to capture opinions in society” using “data publicly available on social networks”, as per a government document about the project.
"We are talking about the first government adviser to use artificial intelligence," globally, Ciucă said.
PM @NicolaeCiuca: As of today, the Government of 🇷🇴 Romania has the first government adviser running on AI, a good example of emerging technologies in public service.— GuvernulRomâniei (@GuvernulRo) March 1, 2023
Congratulations to the 🇷🇴 researchers on this project that brings us closer to citizens! pic.twitter.com/yP5b5pOs5i
With the new AI-powered adviser, citizens of Romania will be able to deliver their thoughts through a government website, social media, and specific locations. After that, Ion will synthesise the data received and create reports for further consideration. The AI assistant will scan social media networks and inform the Romanian government “in real time of Romanians’ proposals and wishes". However, users will not be receiving responses from the technology, according to the co-ordinator of the research team, Nicu Sebe.
With the milestone, the Romanian PM has urged his countrymen to participate as an "obligation" that will ensure "close and timely" communication. While the technology might be the first of its kind, it has its downsides. Kris Shrishak, a technology fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, said that the AI adviser should be used carefully as it is still unclear what it will choose as a priority from the messages it gets. "This should be explained to the public," Shrishak said.